ONE Heavyweight World Champion “Singh” Arjan Bhullar kept a close eye on ONE: Revolution as heavyweights Amir Aliakbari and Anatoly Malykhin went toe-to-toe.
The Russian turned off Aliakbari’s lights in the first round and officially became the top contender for the ONE Championship gold, putting the Indian in his crosshairs. But the reigning king does not see his tenure atop the mountain ending anytime soon.
“I thought the fight was a good fight. It was entertaining. [It was] exciting, although very one-sided,” said Bhullar on the heavyweight contender’s battle.
“It was good to see from a fan perspective. Aliakbari likes to talk a lot. Anatoly has an easygoing, funner personality. And I was just excited to see how that plays out.”
“Anatoly was able to impose his stand-up. There are obviously glaring holes in Aliakbari’s stand-up and that was his path of least resistance to a victory. It was good to actually see what his stand-up looks like.”
The American Kickboxing Academy standout has already been consuming footage of his upcoming challenger and breaking down his game.
Bhullar says he sees opportunities to exploit and have a successful first defense of the ONE Heavyweight World Championship.
“Anatoly has a 10-0 record, very similar to mine. I had that “0” a few years ago, and so I know exactly how he feels. I don’t feel too far off from that. Even the fight when I ended up losing, I was winning every second in that fight,” Bhullar said.
“Generally, he’s rushed in for takedowns and gone that route. You know, [at] the end of the day, he got his arm raised, that’s [what’s] most important. But next is me and I’m not Aliakbari, and we see holes in what he has shown, and I’m excited for the challenge to go exploit them.”
“But I do think he’s a formidable opponent and his record shows that. I’m excited for the challenge.”
Bhullar captured the ONE gold back in April with a dominant second-round TKO over Brandon Vera. The victory was a culmination and gave India its first-ever World Champion in mixed martial arts, a landmark victory for the nation.
But with an upcoming undefeated Russian powerhouse, Bhullar knows he has to sure-up his game to retain his title.
“I’m going to prepare for this match like we always have. I’ve got the same team around me. We will have training partners that mimic Anatoly, similar to [my] other fights,” said Bhullar.
“The work has already begun, and it had already begun the day I signed [with ONE] and the day he signed. I knew we’d see each other, so I’m just excited that my next defense has been announced.”
How does the king see this heavyweight title tilt playing out? He expects to “bust up” the challenger and get his hand raised one more time to solidify his standing as the king of the division.
“The guy doesn’t have the skills I have, neither does he have the insides. He doesn’t have the spirit I have inside, [and he] doesn’t have the mentality I have,” said Bhullar.
“I cut no corners, I go the extra mile, I’m not as stiff as him, and I’m not as stationary as him, so it’s going to be a completely different animal coming at [Anatoly]. I’m excited to get it on.”
“Yet, I have filled in the gaps [in my game] that potentially I don’t think he has because, you know, everything is going well for him – and I’m just going to leave it at that for now.”